I remember being a young girl watching the 1996 U.S. Women’s Olympic Gymnastic team compete in Atlanta. That year, the nickname given to the team was “Magnificent Seven” because of the amazing capabilities of the team members. Every time women’s gymnastics was shown, I could not take my eyes of the television – especially Dominique Moceanu. You see, she was my favorite member of the team and I loved watching every move. In 1996, I wanted to be her.

The memoir by Dominique Moceanu, Off Balance, is the honest and very open story of her life. Dominique describes her first experience with gymnastics when her parents enrolled her in a class at the age of 3. She goes on to recount experiences with different coaches and gyms until the age of 10 when Dominique and her family moved to Houston, TX so she could train with world-renowned coach Bela Karolyi.

As she began working with Karolyi, Dominique chronicles the intense training that led to her making the 1996 Women’s Olympic Team. Dominique began training with Karolyi in 1992 until the Olympics ended in 1996. The four years of training with him are described candidly in this book. It is obvious a lot of stress was put Dominique at a young age by her coach and father and she does a wonderful job of recounting her feelings.

After the Olympics, Dominique tells the story of her struggles to remain a top performer in gymnastics competitions, drug use and a hard – publicly fought – battle to seek legal emancipation from her parents. Off Balance also recounts Dominique’s feelings when she learns she has a second sister and the support her husband Mike provided during many of her difficult times.

One of the many things I enjoy about this book is how Dominique ties her Romanian heritage throughout the book. Her parents are Romanian immigrants and Dominique explains how her parents heritage and strong ties to the culture had a strong influence in they raised her. It brings perspective to the events in Dominique’s life and allows the reader to view things from another lens.

Off Balance is available for checkout at the VC/UHV Library.

Review written by Amanda B.